Amid No Contract Deal, St. Luke's Nurses Vote to Authorize Strike

Updated: September 12, 2019 11:04 PM

St. Luke's nurses have voted to authorize a strike. The decision comes after months of negotiations yielded no success.


Pete Boyechko, representative for the Minnesota Nurses Association says the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of striking.

The Nurses Association and St. Luke's Administration spent 17 hours Wednesday at the negotiating table. But no settlement deal was reached. 

"Hospital management has been unwilling to work with us to solve problems at the hospital, like recruiting and retaining nurses as well as the short staffing crisis," Boyechko said in a statement.

Union leaders had hoped to reach an agreement deal by the end of Wednesday night. The strike vote means the negotiation team can call a strike if they choose. MNA said the negotiating team would then decide if, when, and how long a strike could take place.

St. Luke's says its nurses are valued members of the care team. In a press release Thursday, President and CEO Kevin Nokels says the hospital prioritizes safe and appropriate staffing levels.

"To be competitive in attracting and retaining talent, St. Luke's compares its compensation with industry- and region-specific compensation data and benchmark against other local and regional hospitals and care centers, as well as internally to ensure that pay rates are consistent across similar nursing roles, training, skills and experience levels," Nokels' statement said. "By these measures, St. Luke's nurses are well paid."

Meanwhile, nurses at Essentia voted to accept a three-year union contract agreement Tuesday evening. That deal includes: Pay increases of 3% for the first two years and 2.25% for the third year; student loan reimbursement of $2,400 for a two-year degree and $3,600 for a four-year degree; extra emergency department pay to ensure staffing meets patient demand; workplace violence protections to help injured nurses before worker's comp kicks in.

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